What Do Moths Eat?

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Moths can be a nuisance if they decide to infest your backyard or home. They have large wings and tend to get into places they shouldn’t, no matter how clean your home is. On top of this, they also have a reputation for eating clothes and ruining perfectly good textiles that have been in a closet for a long time. By understanding what moths eat, you can help ensure that these uninvited guests don’t ruin your belongings. 

While some moths eat clothing, most of them will only eat traditional food. Knowing which ones are which and what they like to eat can help you avoid an infestation. 

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

  • Common Types of Moths
  • What Moths Eat
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    What Types of Moths Are Common? 

    Moths are known for getting into your closet and eating holes in your clothing or towels. This is because some moths, known as clothes moths, will eat textiles and make their nests in your closet, where their closest source of food is. This allows them to never have to stray far from where they can get sustenance, so you won’t be very likely to see clothes moths flying around your home. Because of this, you might not know you have an infestation until it’s too late. 

    Clothes Moths

    Clothes moths are the smallest common variety in the United States. An adult clothes moth will be around ½” in length and will have a beige or gray color with very hairy, narrow wings. They do not display the typical behavior of moths that we are used to seeing, and they avoid light at all costs and don’t fly around like moths are known to do. 

    Clothes moths will be harder to spot than their counterparts, pantry moths. This is because they stay near their food sources, which are natural textiles like cotton and cashmere. They’ll eat away at your clothing or curtains, even if they’re made of synthetic fibers. If you have ever pulled clothing out of the closet and noticed holes around the cuffs, collars, or inside seams, this is a good sign that you have a clothes moth infestation. You can spread mothballs in your closets to keep them away and keep them from eating your clothing. 

    Pantry Moths 

    Adult pantry moths are also around ½” in length, but they have much larger wings that are gray with a reddish-brown color and black stripes. Their larvae are an off-white color and will most likely be found in your pantry, which gives them their name. If you notice moths flying around your kitchen, these are more than likely pantry moths. 

    Pantry moths are much easier to spot than clothes moths, and pantry moths fly around and will be found in your cupboards near any stored food. The pantry moth’s larvae spin webs around their bodies and can burrow through things like cardboard or paper. If you’re noticing a sticky residue around your food or holes in the packaging, this is a sign that you’re dealing with a pantry moth infestation. 

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    What Do Moths Eat?

    Moths will eat almost anything they can find to sustain themselves inside your home. However, clothes moths prefer natural fibers like wool, silk, and cotton, and this will result in holes in your upholstery, curtains, and clothing. If they can’t get to these, they’ll even settle for pet hair and animal fibers. They eat these fibers with specially adapted mouthparts and a proboscis that allows them to chew through the textiles. Most of the time, if moths are outside, they will look for flower nectar or tree sap, just like butterflies. 

    Pantry moth larvae feed on things in your pantry like dried fruits or grains. The adult moths will do their best to get outside so they can drink nectar in your backyard or garden. In the larval stage of the moth life cycle, you’ll be more likely to see them in your pantry or closet, but moth caterpillars are very small, so it might be difficult to locate them. You might notice their droppings or holes in a food source before you see them with your eyes. 

    Moths will eat almost anything they can find to sustain themselves inside your home. However, clothes moths prefer natural fibers like wool, silk, and cotton.

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    Final Thoughts

    Moths can be a difficult pest to deal with because they’re so good at hiding. No matter what species of moth you’re dealing with, you may have to set moth traps or clear out clothes moth larvae before they have a chance to grow up, and the female moths can lay eggs. If you don’t do this, you could end up with a worse moth infestation. 

    If you’re dealing with holes in your clothing and furniture, it could be best to contact a pest control professional. They will be able to help you get rid of any pupae or clothes moth larvae and make sure this common household pest is completely eradicated. They can also help you ensure that no moths will come back to your home after the extermination is done.



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